Should You Tell Your Children About The Affair?

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When it comes to whether you should tell your children about the affair, that’s a tough one! You really have to know your children. You know best if they could handle such information in a non-destructive way. Also, you know best, whether or not they are too young.

You need to be very prayerful and careful with whatever you decide to do. It could drastically change how they view the parent who had the affair. It can change how they interact with them in the future.

But it can also be a good thing to hear it from their parents rather than from someone else. Unfortunately, this sometimes happens. These kinds of things have a way of shooting out of the darkness into the light. Your children, whether they are young or adult, may feel betrayed if they were never told from their parents and had to hear about it elsewhere.

Advice on This

Cindy Crosby, who wrote an article posted on the web site for Marriage Partnership Magazine gives the following advice:

“Children are your first priority here.

Make sure you don’t injure them for life. Both of you need to sit down together with the child or the children. And both of you need to take responsibility for whatever you have contributed to the experience. This is not to the affair, necessarily, but for the tension that exists in the family environment.

“Does age impact this?

If your children are under eight years old, they’ve already made up their own story. They are egocentric and will think they have caused the tension. If your children are teenagers, the kids probably already suspect the affair. Tell them the whole story. Dad had a girlfriend. Mom got involved with someone at work. Sharing the truth allows them to process the issue with Mom and Dad instead of guessing. It keeps them from expending emotional energy checking on how well Mom and Dad are doing.

“That’s a lot of honesty.

The issues for your kids are, ‘Will Mom and Dad make it? Will we stay together as a family?’ Do not lie. If you are not sure your marriage can be saved, tell them to pray; tell them you are seeing a counselor. Then, give lots and lots of touching and hugging and stroking and eye contact to your child. They need that reassurance.”

To learn more of what Cindy writes in her article concerning infidelity, please read:

WHY AFFAIRS HAPPEN…
And What You Need to Know About Prevention and Recovery

We’d really like to hear from you as far as what you think. Have you been in this place yourself or do you know of someone who has? Please “Join the Discussion” below and tell us briefly what happened and whether you think it’s a good idea to tell your adult children about the affair. It could possibly help someone else who is faced with this dilemma.

More to Read

Before doing so, we’d like you to read the articles we have posted below that might help you in some way in your own situation. Please click onto the web site links below to read:

Several of these articles come from a non-Christian web sites. But they have some good information to consider. Please pray first for guidance from the Lord and then click onto the web site links to read:

SHOULD I TELL MY CHILDREN ABOUT THEIR DAD’S AFFAIR?

HOW TO TELL YOUR KIDS

SHOULD YOU TELL YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT THE EXTRAMARITAL AFFAIR?

SHOULD YOU TELL YOUR ADULT CHILDREN ABOUT THE AFFAIR?

HOW DO AFFAIRS AFFECT CHILDREN? (Part 1)

HOW DO AFFAIRS AFFECT CHILDREN? (Part 2)

We’re hoping the Holy Spirit, our Wonderful Counselor, will guide you whether you should tell your children of the affair and if so, what you should tell them.

Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.

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Filed under: Surviving Infidelity

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Comments

61 responses to “Should You Tell Your Children About The Affair?

  1. (USA) I must disagree. Adult children like my own, are devastated by the news. They lose their faith in the person that they always thought they knew, but violated God’s commandment. My father had many affairs and even now after all these years my family only remembers what he did to my mother.

  2. (USA) I told my three teenage daughters. They knew we were having problems in our marriage. They thanked me for telling them the truth. Just as we were starting to heal, we discovered that my husband was still having the affair. Needless to say, we are at square one again. I just pray that their image of their father is repairable. My father had numerous affairs throughout 48 years of marriage to my Mother and he never admitted to them. I hold a bad image of my Dad for not accepting responsibility. My husband has now (after being caught twice) owned up to what he has done. Children need to be taught about forgiveness, but how much is too much?

  3. Dear Lauren, My heart hurts for you and your children. Having lived through this myself when my dad betrayed my mom when I was a teenager, I can tell you (as you know) that the damage is so real for your precious daughters. Your husband will never be able to completely repair the damage he has done to their hearts and is doing to their hearts. And they will never look at him with the same innocence and the same respect they once had. He took that from them.

    But even worse would be if he continued living as someone who cheats. My dad eventually repented and worked on his relationship with my mom. Us “kids” have since forgiven him (and so did my mom, before she died). We now have a good relationship with him. But it has come about at a high cost. Oh, if we only realized how much damage is done when we live in deceit for momentary pleasures. The ripple effect goes on for all generations.

    You ask how much is too much when it comes to forgiveness? Never is the hurt so severe that forgiveness shouldn’t be applied. Even if the person doesn’t deserve it or ask for it. Forgiveness is not so much for the sake of the perpetrator, but for the person who is imprisoned by the pain of holding onto something that will poison their very being.

    We have a whole section on our web site on “Bitterness and Forgiveness.” Please read through it. I believe it will help you and your daughters, as well. You aren’t condoning the wrong actions of your husband by forgiving him. You are handing the “accounting” to God and letting Him handle it and you are removing from your being the poison of bitterness when you forgive.

    It will be a painful process to get to that place where you totally release it. But it’s worth the journey! My prayers and concern are with you and your family. I’m so sorry for your pain. I pray your husband finally “gets it” as far as how wrong he has committed and works to turn his life around.

  4. (US)  My question is, my fiance is divorced and has 2 kids, a girl 12, and a boy 8. Their mother was having an affair with a guy from work for over a year, my fiance st 7 mos. had no clue. Then he started to find little clues, then she finally told him. So to go on, his divorce is over 3 years ago.

    His daughter who is 12 this Saturday said to me that she blames the divorce on her dad and she is angry at him because he choose to divorce. She wanted to know the truth of what happened between her parents. I said I am not getting in the middle and that I know for a fact that it was not your dads fault (because the ex wife blames the dad). “Your mom” I said, “made the choice of what she did to end the marriage and that it is not my position to tell what happened.”

    So I told my fiance what went down and he wants to know if he should be honest and tell her since she wants to know? He doesn’t want her to bottle her feelings up like her mom does and that is the steps his daughter is following in. He is wanting to know if this is the right choice before she finds out from others when she is older. A lot of parents in our area know about what happened so does he tell her the truth before it’s too late??

  5. (USA)  Yes, you should be honest with your children. Give age appropriate details. If someone broke their vows, say marriage is a vow where you promise before God to give yourself to your spouse and no others. Your mother decided to give herself to others instead of me, and my attempts to convince her to honor her vow failed as she continued to see other men in a romantic fashion. I believe I had no choice but to divorce her since she was making a mockery of the vows she took.

    At any time, she had the option to end those relationships and recommit to the marriage. She chose to continue and the marriage was ended.

    He should own filing for divorce, but be 100% transparent about his rationale and steps he took to save the marriage before arriving at that decision.

  6. (USA)  My parents got divorced years and years ago, when I was a teenager. There had always been a rumor that he was having an affair with a co-worker. A few years after my parents divorce, this coworker wound up divorced from her husband as well, and lo and behold (according to what they told me at the time) they just decided to start dating. Right.

    I think parents should be up front, otherwise your children can easily draw the conclusion that you see them as stupid. For years and years they have kept up this story that they never had an affair. If I were to question them about it today, I’m sure even now they would deny it. But I have had everyone else and their uncle, cousin, dog and pet hamster tell me otherwise. I wonder when they will realize I am no longer “the youngest one in curls” and treat me like an adult (i.e….just stop lying and tell the truth).

  7. (U.S.) We had to tell our adult children because I had a breakdown. My husband of 30 yrs had a 13 yr affair and when I found out we were trying to work this out. And after my break down we had to tell them why I had to be hospitalized. They handled it a lot better than I expected. They are supportive and have said that they will honor whatever I decide to do. They were upset of course, that I waited to have a breakdown before I confided in them. They have put no pressure on me to leave him or not. They are standing by both of us and of course, hope we can work this out.

    1. (USA)  I am at the point where I am shaky, I have not told him anything I know, but I am going to really “I dont know” what to do ..

  8. (USA)  I am a 40 year old child that just found out that her father cheated, and has a 33 year old daughter to show for it. For all of those years relatives covered for him as he lived a double life, and took time away from me and my mom to go and sleep in another woman’s bed and stay in her house with another child. I’m over the initial shock and anger.

    I think that as a grown adult, my father should tell me why he cheated on me and my mom. I really feel like he cheated on me too. But my dad does not think that he needs to say anything more. He is not humble at all. He is mad that I met and talked with the girl who is supposed to be my sister. I’m not mad with her—she did not ask for this situation, and neither did I. She is filling in all of the “blanks” for me. And I tell my mom everything.

    The both of us have been in the dark for so long, the thought of me keeping that info from her made me sick, so I told her what I found out, because my dad really was not telling her anything. He had the nerve to get mad at me because of that. Well, I laughed at him and almost told him what he could go and kiss for me. He does not think that my mom needs to know any of that “stuff”, and I’m just getting in the middle of their marriage.

    Sorry, my dad has been manipulative enough!!! Manipulation is not love in my book!!! I want my mom to know everything so that she can make a well informed decision. I hope that my mom does leave him. Heck, she’ll be just fine—they can divide all of the material things. She can live in one house, and he in another. Or she can come and live with me if she wants to.

    I am just so sick of my dad still trying to tell lies, being manipulative and controlling of my mom. That’s what really stinks more than anything else. I don’t even call my father dad anymore—I now call him by his first name. In my mind, the person that I knew as my dad would never have done that to us.

  9. (USA)  This is a question that I know I need answers with, but my situation is a bit different. Back in 2002, I started noticing more and more that my husband was not taking showers, not keeping himself clean. He has always been a rather sweaty person, but because he put on weight, he sweated more, and the odor that came from him was sickening. I would try to talk to him saying things like, “honey, lets take a shower together”, stuff that would not seem criticizing. He refused to, and that went on until finally I came out one day with telling him that I really miss you, but I cannot “be” with you if you don’t clean up. Well, he took that as criticizing, and I then noticed that he would go WEEKS without washing. He also started going online, printing out naked pictures of celebrity woman and wrestling “babes”. I found the pictures one day when I was cleaning; I got this nagging feeling that I should check his bottom drawer of his dresser, and their they were, plus, a prepaid cell phone.

    I confronted him about it (one or more of the sites had viruses which infected my computer and I ended up having to junk it), and he got very angry, telling me that he is a grown man and that he is paying the bills, and it felt like I was his mother looking over his shoulder at everything he did. I then asked him why did he have the prepaid phone, did he have an affair? At first he said no, but then he turned around and said that yes he did, with a woman who sold insurance to the city workers, (he is a retired cop).

    Well my feelings were crushed as I tried to figure out why he did it. Note this; I am not perfect, I do and have done my share of wrongs, but I repented and asked God for forgiveness of each offense and sin that I had perpetrated against others in my life. Anyway, after he told me who the woman allegedly was and where she lived, I insisted that he get an AIDS test done. He said there was no need to do that which puzzled me a lot.

    During that time my children were old enough to understand, and they both came into my bedroom when they heard me scream out after finding those pictures. Both of them asked me what happened and I told them. It was not hard to figure that out; the pictures were all on the bed of the naked women. My daughter was a teenager and my son was preteen. After my husband confessed to the alleged affair, I broke down into tears and depression sank down on me deeply, even the music director at the church I had attended said that he felt it. He prayed for me, but I was too far gone mentally and emotionally. I spoke again to my children and told them that daddy said he had an affair with another woman and that is why you see mom crying so much.

    My husband said he was sorry, and because I was so depressed he said that maybe I should go and “talk to someone that specializes in marital discord”, but he refused to go, saying that he did not need to, that he was not depressed, but he said that he would be glad to drive me to them. A couple of years later, I found evidence of another cell phone by way of the bill coming to address, and realized again that my husband was lying to me. This time he said that the cell phone was for use with when he was at work, which he claimed to have used it for the coworkers alone, but did not tell me. His brother knew he had it though. Apparently he purchased the cell phone around the time that I found the other prepaid one.

    A few weeks later, I got another strong feeling that something was not right with his story about the affair, so after seeking advice from a couple of my choir mates, I confronted him about it, and I told him he best tell the truth because I was going to file for divorce if he did not (I had already started taking steps in that direction anyway). He said “truth; I never had an affair with the woman I claimed to have, I made it all up because you told me that I needed to take a shower, so I stayed dirty and stinky on purpose to get back at you. I wanted you to think that if you did not want me regardless of how I smell and how disgusting I look, that there was someone out there who would.

    My husband, was driving me to those meetings for me to TRY to get over an affair that my husband never had, and when I did ask him why did he let me believe for so long that you had an affair, he says he does not know, but I knew; as long as I felt that there was someone else, he figured that I would continue with my marital “obligations”.

    My kids, now both grown up, daughter 20, son almost 17, would hear me crying late at night, and finally (also because they could hear my husband and I arguing) my son came to me and told me that he was old enough to hear what was going on, and asked me to please tell him what happened. I felt it better to tell them so I sat down with him first and let him know, and then my daughter. My daughter got angry, but for more reasons than that; I had her from a previous relationship, my husband is her step-father, and she already felt insecure about her biological dad abandoning her. My son however, kept his feelings to himself for a while, but later on he made it very clear to my husband that he did not like what he did to me. My son became closer to me, while my daughter accused me of trying to break her relationship with my husband up. She changed her tune after a while, realizing that I did not bring this on myself.

    Since all that has transpired, my relationship with my husband is strained. I have forgiven him, but I still remember the hurts, and still feel like he played me for a fool. I don’t trust him anymore; and I question everything that he does. The hurt that I feel from what he did is still in my heart and I don’t know if it will ever go away. There is no intimacy between us and has not been for about four years now, and even after all that took place, he still will not wash up; he will wait for about a week before he showers, and just being around him makes me sick, physically sick. Because we have adopted abandoned and neglected animals over the years, it is not that easy to just pick up and move on, plus I have no job, got several medical problems that derived from what took place between my husband and I, so I have no other place to live.

    I was horrified. I got played by my husband, and made to look like a fool. My body could take it no more, the depression sank back deeper than before, and I put on massive weight, all without eating. I barely ate so how could I get so heavy? Then because of the rapid weight gain, my ankles started swelling up, and my knees started hurting. My beautiful hair fell out, and I just did not want to go on.

    He was told that he needed counseling, he refused to go with me nor alone. Finally, one day he did go to see the shrink with me. When he got there, they let him know this; you are insecure about how you look, you don’t like yourself, you are jealous of your own wife because of how she looks and the attention she gets while on the flip side, no woman is looking at you and when you look in the mirror at yourself, the truth has turned you ugly on the inside about yourself which you then put on your wife by hurting her.

    The bottom line is this though; he is still bitter over the fact that I told our kids what happened, yesterday he made no bones about the fact that I should not have told them, that it was none of their business which I totally DISagree with, and he blames me for his relationship with his son being so distant. He was told by the shrink to stop placing blame on others when he needs to hold himself accountable for the things he did, but he is still angry and bitter.

    Me, I don’t know what to do. I can’t stand being in the same house with him, yet at this time I have no choice. I try to be civil, but arguments still do break out. I don’t know if anyone has every gone through what I have, but I could sure use some advice.

  10. (US)  Hi. I need to know what to do. My husband had, in his own words, an affair with a coworker. I found out by seeing an email of his. He said there was some physical contact in a parking garage, but that that was all. However, he did feel close to her and for a day or two, his words, he thought about leaving me for her. He told me it ended when she asked if he would ever leave me and he said no. Is that a question a woman asks out of the blue? I feel he must of given her some reason to think he would.

    Anyway, she moved away, but he would email or call her during the five years after. I never knew about any of this. I was so hurt when I found out, but it does explain why he kept trying to make it seem that I was “always mad.” I just felt he was not really trying to be close or a real part of our life. He, I guess, was just really not committed to our marriage.

    After I found out, he says he is sorry. He is trying and has gone to AA meetings. I have forgiven him and I am working on forgiving the other woman, but I just have some “holes” in my life. I wish I knew the truth about our marriage then. I ask him and he still gets defensive. Sometimes I’m happy and then I feel very confused and unsure of my future with him. Am I wrong to want to fill in these “holes”

    I also feel so bad that there is another woman on this earth that has knowledge about a part of my husband’s life that I, his wife, does not have. It really does hurt a lot still, not all the time, but a lot. It has been a year and three months since I found out about his affair. I too, told my kids about this because it gutted me when I first found out and they needed to know what I was dealing with. My youngest was 15 and the others were grown and out of the house. You can’t get hit by a train and keep your kids from seeing your pain.

  11. (USA)  I have been married for 25 years and just found out my husband was having an affair and my heart is broken. But I forgive him because if I don’t forgive him I’m only making my life bitter. But how can I get my daughter and my two sons to forgive and let him in the house again? He came to see them today and asked them to forgive him for what he did. But by the time he opened his mouth they told him to leave the house. He was crying. That was the very first time I saw him cry. I don’t know what to do. Please, somebody help me.

    1. (USA) Vicky, I’m so sorry for the heartbreak you are going through because of the infidelity your husband chose to bring into your marriage and home. Nothing tears at the heart of a spouse as much as being betrayed in this way. My heart truly cries with you.

      As for your “children” (I put this in quotation marks because I’m not sure if they are younger or older or a combination of both), you and your husband must recognize that they feel betrayed as well. Yes, the main betrayal is against you as your husband’s marriage partner, but your children also feel the pain. It’s good to keep that in consideration. Listen to their pain, don’t ignore their feelings, address them, and move forward as you feel you must, but with their feelings in consideration to the degree that you can.

      You ask how you can “get” your daughter and sons to forgive. That is not something you can do. That’s out of your hands. It’s only something you can model for them and pray for them that they will eventually find it within themselves to release the bitterness which will only make their lives more painful as well.

      Lets face it, they will never forget (nor will you). Their innocence and trust was ripped from them (and you) in all of this. Your husband cannot turn back the hands of time and erase that which he inflicted upon the family. The only thing he can do is make sure he protects your marriage in the future and works to build trust and relationship. It will be a slow and difficult process, but it CAN be done. I know. I lived through it with my 3 siblings because my dad did this same thing against my mom. It forever changed us but we had to work it through in whatever way we could. Eventually they reconciled and we grew closer as a family again.

      As for your sons and daughter “letting him in the house again” — while I GREATLY sympathize with them (having lived this scenario myself), my question is, who’s in charge here? Are they paying the rent or house payments and you and your husband are living with them, or is it the other way around? Yes, this is the home you provide for them, and yes, they are hurt by what is done, but no, they are not the ones who are to be in charge unless you are living with them. As painful as that might be, it’s reality. If they are of legal age to leave and they feel they must live elsewhere, then that might be best for them to work this out away from where you and your husband live. Who knows what the future might bring, if so?

      Again, I greatly sympathize. But the reality is that they will eventually leave home and probably find spouses of their own. But if you are able to find forgiveness in your heart and you and your husband are able to work to rebuild your marriage so it is healthy where faithfulness and trust is once again rebuilt WITH your children’s feelings in mind, then they have no right to block that from happening.

      Remember, they are young, and they won’t always approach hard situations with maturity. And this is big stuff. Even adults, such as yourselves, have a difficult time with this. Give them grace and love, but don’t stop the reconciliation process with you and your husband (despite your “children’s” confused and raw feelings) if that is where you are headed. Do the best you can to try to build bridges with your children (although you can’t force them to embrace it all) as you work through these issues. You have a lot to work through. I hope the articles on our web site and recommended resources and web site links will help you in this long journey. But please do not allow your children to take you both hostage for them to make the rules. You are the adults here; you need to make the wisest decisions you can for your marriage and then for your family. Eventually, prayerfully, they will understand. My hope and prayers are with you.

  12. (USA)  Thank you for your prayers cause I really need them. I was thinking of taking my life cause he really broke my heart. I was 15 years old when I got married with him and he was 20 years old. My kids don’t need me anymore. They are 23, 21, and 19. They can take care of themselves. They are really hard working kids.

    All my life it was was a type of hell. First, when I was 5 years old, my father left us and I haven’t seen him since. Then when I was 7 years old, I was sexually abused by my cousin. And I have to shut my mouth. I’m 39 years old. Every time I’m going to tell somebody they break my trust. I was going to tell my husband to see what happens. Thank you for your prayers.

    1. (USA) Vicky, Please don’t allow someone else or any circumstances cause you to give up hope that you can see better days. Right now, you are in a dark tunnel, and giving up and entertaining the idea of killing yourself is obviously haunting you. I know how that can be, because I’ve been there. But those are thoughts straight from the pit of hell. They are powerful, but they lose their power as you look for blessings and apply the principles of Philippians 4:8-9. (I’ll have you look it up and pray over it.)

      It’s wonderful that your children are “hard working kids” and that they “can take care of themselves.” Praise God! You have much to be proud of. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But of course, as your “job” as their mom changes where you are no longer needed to help them in the ways they needed while growing up, you have to find a new “normal” and find other things and people to invest your time in and with. If you can’t invest it with your husband (hopefully you can) in building new dreams together, then look for other ways. There are so many ministries and churches that need volunteer help. You could be a part of a bigger picture in helping others who need a helping hand and/or a listening ear.

      At 39, you have so many years ahead of you to help others and to bring a smile to the faces of those who are hurting (as well as your children — they will always need a mom, even if they don’t need a mother). As you minister to others, you will find yourself refreshed and renewed as well.

      It’s tragic that you had so many hurtful circumstances thrust upon you as you were growing up. I sympathize with you. I personally have known much of this pain myself. And I understand all too well, that most people can’t be trusted with that kind of information. You are right in being cautious.

      Years ago, I made the determination that with God’s help, I would not allow myself to hold onto a victim mindset. I don’t want to give those who hurt me that kind of power to keep hurting me as an adult. Instead of continuing to nurse it, I instead reverse it and make it my strength. I use what I learned in my past pain to help ease the pain of others. I know God smiles as I do. And nothing pleases me more than to shame the devil and please the Lord and bless others. It totally defeats the enemy of our faith. It turns tears into laughter.

      I hope you and your husband can somehow find ways to patch things up. 25 years is a lot of time to be together. He was all out wrong in betraying you. But I hope he is repentant and will strive to be faithful in the future and work with you to bless your lives together. Please direct your attention away from the hurt and ask God to show you how to turn your “mourning into laughter” as the Bible tells us. Ask Him to give you a new vision for how you can invest your energies into that which will bring joy, rather than hopelessness. You deserve better than that. Reach for it! Apply and keep applying the principles of Philippians 4:8-9. And may God bless you all the more as you do!

  13. (USA)  My husband had an affair. We talk but he says he needs time to think of what to do. I don’t understand why he needs time because I’m the one that was hurt. I asked him why he needs time. He says he doesn’t know what to do. That’s why I’m going to leave to go to Georgia for a while. He expects me to stay home while he goes out because he moved in with his mom. I told him to take his time but not to take too long because I don’t know how long I’m going to wait.

  14. (USA)  I discovered my Dad’s infidelity as a teenager, but when my two teenage sisters and I discussed it, though we were a bit angry and resentful, we decided that it wasn’t our business. I won’t say I completely “got over” it, but I wasn’t terribly upset. By that age, we were old enough to see the world for what it was, imperfect. He’d been a good dad to us and his actions did not erase the love we’d received all of our lives. We were all adopted biological sisters so maybe we can appreciate a dad for what he does right instead of condemning him in a way that he would never do to us. I love and respect my parents for raising me and giving me so many opportunities and that is not conditional!